In order to better illustrate the truths, I’m first outlining some common thoughts of despair. Maybe you can identify with them.
1. You are alone.
I realize that many people feel truly alone in every sense of the word, but thankfully since I have been down that road before I am not there at the moment. I just don’t feel like we have anyone on our team right now. It’s not that we don’t have lots of great, supportive friends, it’s just that we don’t have any friends like us. And honestly, that just feels lonely.
2. You suck. Big time.
I am so very, very aware right now of how badly I suck. I’m horribly selfish and am having a really hard time with perfectionist tendencies for some reason – I guess because I don’t like myself right now and therefore am being more critical of others. I’m also a huge wimp, easily manipulated by how I’m feeling. I just feel like a really crappy person and seriously have to wonder if there can be any hope for such a rotten soul. And I’m bombarded by those thoughts a lot at the moment…
3. You’ll never be “good enough”/can’t do anything right.
Thankfully, when I turned 30 I kind of stopped caring about being “good enough” and stopped letting it keep me from just doing what I was supposed to do, but now it’s kind of started to take on a new form – it’s kind of a combination of always being 2 steps behind and just getting old and lame too fast. Plus there is the ever-present feeling that I can’t ever quite get it right.
4. You can never get ahead, what’s the point?
Seriously, sometimes it really feels like running in one of those hamster wheels… with a bunch of old crap chained to your ankles. We have always had to deal with far less than ideal equipment, living situation, location, etc. etc. and it can be really easy to let that beat us down. In our heads at least, most people who try to do stuff aren’t on such an uphill battle, but there’s no end in site to this hill…
5. God doesn’t like you.
I mean, why would he?! I’ve been kidding myself this whole time when I didn’t feel quite as crappy about myself, but now that I’m taking time to notice how wretched I STILL am after all these years, I remember what a horrible job I’ve done of preparing myself for crappy situations, and why I have no hope. I don’t have remotely enough scripture memorized and I’m pretty sure a rat chewed through my connection line to the Holy Spirit.
There are certainly many more such thoughts and variations, like a 4-D Jenga puzzle of torture, or a house-sized ball of tangled up yarn, mocking any possibility of solving. I know what it is to be stuck in an ever downward spiral of black hopelessness, and that’s why I can recognize myself wanting to slip back into it this week. But I’ve learned a few truths over the years that would like to keep me from plummeting again. I share them now as a reminder to myself… maybe you’ll find a little hope, too.
1. Most negative thoughts are largely self-centered
When you’re in a negative spiral it feels next to impossible to NOT believe the negative stuff. If you can force yourself to look for ways to serve someone else, you’ll start to see a shift in your focus.
2. You will never feel your way into good behavior.
I hate, hate, hate how easily I can be lead around by the nose by how I feel. My flesh is seriously a wuss. I DO NOT WANT TO GO AGAINST WHAT FEELS GOOD TO ME. For some reason that “make me feel good” monster inside of you grows super duper fast when you feed it. And it acts pretty freaking mean when you suggest not feeding it. I find that it gets tantrum-throwing mad pretty easily. The problem is, you can’t trust that ugly critter. It will lead you astray pretty much every time. And that is why I sometimes hate being an adult. Choosing the good, right thing that will make me ultimately feel a lot better instead of what I want to do right now?!?!
3. God’s timing is always perfect, his plan always better. Always.
Yes, others might be getting ahead of you at a dizzying pace. Yes, they might have “better” stuff than you. No, your life might not ever look how you would like it to. But if you can let go of the handles and hang on for the ride, there’s a much better chance of you starting to enjoy the journey. We often want to take a short cut, but God usually has some breathtaking scenery to show us on his route. Trying to steer with our white-knuckled grip is only asking for our frown lines and white hairs to multiply at an unhealthy rate.
4. When God tells you something it doesn’t make you feel hopeless.
All those thoughts about being a no-good, dirty, rotten excuse for a person who God doesn’t like, and won’t ever get ahead? They’re from God’s enemy who wants to mess you up bad and render you powerless. When God wants us to be aware of our crap it is in order to do something about it, and it actually comes with JOY. God shows us our sin, our heart holes, THROUGH the lens of his GREAT POWER, which isn’t even in the same universe as hopeless. He gives us the solution at the same time that his light shines on the problem. If you’re struggling to wade through the quicksand of your myriad shortcomings, I can promise you right now that it is not God bringing those things to your mind to make a mental stew over.
5. Not only is every day a new day, but each moment is a fresh start.
Who you have been, what you have done in the past, does not have to inform your future. And that past includes the last few seconds, and that future includes the next few seconds. You. do. have. the. power. to. choose.
6. Bringing something into the light makes it lose its power.
(There are six good things instead of only five because good always wins in the end.) You were not made to be an army of one. When you keep all the negative thoughts and your personal internal fight a secret, let it eat you from the inside out, it wins. When you expose dirt, filth, and grime to the light, the light begins to kill it dead. If you can’t think of anyone in your life that you trust to stand with you in this battle for your heart and mind, please, pick me. I am only a tweet, email, or text away, and while I’m no one special, I am willing 😉